Arlington Heights police have alerted seniors and their families to a newer scam. Seniors may receive an automated call from an agency claiming a medical alert system was purchased for them by an unknown party. They ask the potential victim for banking and other personal information to register the system. Some callers will offer the senior thousands of dollars in grocery certificates along with a free medical alert bracelet.
The offenders are just trying to gain the person’s banking and personal information to gain access to their accounts or possible to open new accounts.
NEVER provide your bank account information, Medicare number, Social Security number or any other personal information to someone over the phone.
ALWAYS be wary of anyone offering you something for “free” in exchange for your information.
HOW YOU CAN BE EXTRA VULNERABLE TO THIS SCAM …
When scammers mention the name of the gifter, they will eventually hit on a victim where that name might seem credible. For example, you just hung up with your son named Glen. Coincidentally, the scammer says the gifter’s name is Glen. At random they will eventually hit on a victim that has just talked to a “Glen” that is family or a family friend. If your life is really busy, there is a chance your defenses will be down with the sound of the familiar name. Maybe the real “Glen” and the victim just had a conversation about medical alerts. Normally victims would be sharp enough to detect the scam, but it only takes seconds to slip. With scammers trying thousands of victims, they eventually hit on a victim that slips.
HOW DOES THE SCAM WORK?
These scam calls can take on many forms. Often, the callers claim they are with Medicare or a familiar medical provider, or tell you that your “free” medical alert system is ready for pickup if you “press one.” Once you press a button, however, you will begin to receive more unwanted calls and requests to convince you to disclose your personal information.
In some cases, the caller may try to gain your confidence by claiming that an anonymous person or a family member has paid for the alert system and that you must provide your information for delivery or setup. People who continue on this path are then asked for more personal information, such as a credit card number or Social Security number.
Once you provide private information, the unknown entity may begin charging you for an unwanted or undelivered service. Scam callers who obtain private banking or Social Security information over the phone may use it to steal money.
Glenna Hodge of Candler keeps a close eye on her caller id. When she received three calls from a suspicious number, she let it go right to voice mail. The recorded calls contained fraudulent sales pitches for a medical alert system.
HOW YOU CAN PROTECT YOURSELF?
When in doubt, don’t give it out, and HANG UP. It’s not rude to hang up on a scammer. If you are not sure who you’re dealing with, don’t give out any personal information. Regardless of what they say, no legitimate organization, including Medicare, will call to ask for your bank account number or Social Security number.
Just hang up. The longer you spend on the line with a phony operator, the more likely it is you will get another scam call. Be cautious of cold-calls that claim “no strings attached.” If you receive a call that seems fishy, just hang up.
Beware of “free” offers. Remember, callers offer free trials to get you to purchase some good or service down the road. Ask yourself: why would a company give me a medical alert system for free with no hope that I would make an additional purchase down the road? It wouldn’t. Remember, if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Don’t rely on caller ID. Some seniors report that their caller ID system indicated a local number when they received one of these scam calls. Remember, criminals often scramble the number appearing on your caller ID with “spoofing” technology that tricks your caller ID system into displaying a fake number. Even a supposed “local number” associated with this scam that shows up on your caller ID system will likely lead to a dead end.
Report suspicious activity. Check out an unknown company before you sign up, especially if business is done over the phone. If a caller seems suspicious, hang up and report the matter to the Attorney General’s Office.
Anyone having information about this or any other serious crime in Arlington Heights should submit an anonymous text tip by texting the keyword 847AHPD and your message to 847411(tip411) or call Arlington Heights Crime Stoppers at (847) 590-STOP. Callers are guaranteed anonymity and may qualify for a cash reward of up to $1,000.
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